* UN demands N.Korea halt missile and nuclear programmes
* N.Korea leader Kim: missile drill prelude to "contain Guam"
* Trump says N.Korea's message received "loud and clear"
* Test comes amid US, S.Korea military exercises
The United Nations condemned North Korea's "outrageous" firing of a ballistic missile over Japan, demanding that the isolated country halts its weapons programme but holding back on any threat of new sanctions.
North Korea said the launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) was to counter US and South Korean military drills and was a first step in military action in the Pacific to "contain" the US territory of Guam.
The North's leader, Kim Jong Un, ordered the launch to be conducted for the first time from its capital, Pyongyang, and said more exercises with the Pacific as the target were needed, the North's KCNA news agency said on Wednesday.
"The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the KPA in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam," KCNA quoted Kim as saying. KPA stands for the Korean People's Army.
North Korea this month threatened to fire four missiles into the sea near Guam, home to a major US military presence, after President Donald Trump said the North would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.
In a statement, the 15-member Security Council said it was of "vital importance" that North Korea take immediate, concrete actions to reduce tensions and called on all states to implement UN sanctions.
However, the US-drafted statement, which was agreed by consensus, does not threaten new sanctions on North Korea.
Diplomats say veto-wielding council members China and Russia typically only view a test of a long-range missile or a nuclear weapon as a trigger for further possible sanctions.
China's and Russia's ambassadors to the United Nations said they opposed any unilateral sanctions on North Korea and reiterated calls to halt deployment of a US missile defence system in South Korea.
"I certainly hope that we'll be able to have a strong resolution following up this ... statement," Japan's Ambassador to the United Nations, Koro Bessho, told reporters after the meeting.
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China was discussing the situation with other Security Council members and would make a "necessary response" based on the consensus reached. China is the North's lone major ally.
"Any measures against North Korea should be under the UN Security Council framework, and should be carried out according to Security Council resolutions," he told a news briefing.
Unilateral sanctions did not accord with international law, Wang added, a reference to sanctions imposed on Chinese firms and citizens by the United States and Japan.
Speaking during a visit to the Japanese city of Osaka, British Prime Minister Theresa May called on China to put more pressure on North Korea, saying Beijing had a key role to play.
Asked about her comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said some "relevant sides" were only selectively carrying out the UN resolutions by pushing hard on sanctions yet neglecting to push for a return to talks.
She said this was not the attitude "responsible countries" should have when the "smell of gunpowder" remained strong over the Korean peninsula.
"When it comes to sanctions, they storm to the front but when it comes to pushing for peace they hide at the very back," Hua told a daily news briefing.
All options on the table
Tuesday's test was of the same Hwasong-12 missile Kim had threatened to use on Guam, but the test flight took it in another direction, over northern Japan's Hokkaido and into the sea.
Trump, who has vowed not to let North Korea develop nuclear missiles that can hit the mainland United States, said the world had received North Korea's latest message "loud and clear".
"Threatening and destabilising actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table," Trump said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Trump administration plans to name a former White House official, Victor Cha, as the next US ambassador to South Korea, according to an administration official.
Cha served as deputy head of the US delegation in multilateral talks with North Korea over its nuclear programme during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The North's latest test launch came as US and South Korean forces conducted annual military exercises on the Korean peninsula, angering Pyongyang which sees the war games as a preparation for invasion.
North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under Kim in defiance of UN sanctions, but firing a projectile over mainland Japan was a rare and provocative move.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
South, North, US mark 70th anniversary of Korean War
N Korea suspends military action plans against South
South Korea says it’s battling ‘second wave’ of Covid-19
South Korea says it is battling 'second wave' of coronavirus
North Korea is preparing anti-South leaflet campaign
N.Korea prepares anti-South leaflets amid heightened tensions
Seoul’s unification minister resigns over N Korea tensions
Defectors prepare packages to send to N Korea amid tensions
N Korea vows to redeploy troops